"Now behold, this Lachoneus, the governor, was a just man, and could not be frightened by the demands and the threatenings of a robber; therefore he did not hearken to the epistle of Giddianhi, the governor of the robbers, but he did cause that his people should cry unto the Lord for strength against the time that the robbers should come down against them. Yea, he sent a proclamation among all the people, that they should gather together their women, and their children, their flocks and their herds, and all their substance, save it were their land, unto one place...And they did fortify themselves against their enemies; and they did dwell in one land, and in one body, and they did fear the words which had been spoken by Lachoneus, insomuch that they did repent of all their sins; and they did put up their prayers unto the Lord their God, that he would deliver them in the time that their enemies should come down against them to battle." (3 Nephi 3:12-13,25)
When people come across the warfare chapters in the Book of Mormon they often read these chapters with a glazed look followed by their eyes rolling back in their heads. At that point, their fingers subtly skip over the pages until they find other parts of the Book of Mormon that they find more interesting. Yet in passing over these accounts of ancient warfare we are passing over strategic information given to us-information that I call "The Nephite Art of War".
Most people are unaware that in the Israelite Mind and conflict can fall under the category of warfare whether it be a conflict of nations, communities, economics, families, siblings, etc. In these Latter days, we are also engaged in a modern warfare against modern Gadianton Robbers who seek to subvert the liberty and freedom that exist in this country. While the word war often carries with it images of swords, arrows, guns, tanks, and missiles there are other types of warfare that should be considered.
In modern business schools around the country, Sun Tzu's Art of War is often translated into tactics for the modern warfare of Business. Yes, Business and Economics can also be considered a form of warfare. While the world is engaged in their "Gadianton Robbery" believers in the Book of Mormon and The Followers of Christ have been given an art of war to protect themselves and their families in their modern war with the modern Gadianton Robbers. One such tactic in the Book of Mormon's art of war is the tactic of communities designed to not only be beacons of light but fortified communities of safety and security.
As believers in The Book of Mormon, we should be anxiously engaged in studying and translating The Nephite Art of War into principles of Spiritual, Economic, and Physical Warfare to uphold the principles of liberty and freedom given by God.
THE POWER OF MICRO-ECONOMIES AND COMMUNITY:
Like their ancient counterparts modern Gadianton Robbers survive by politically and economically pillaging we the people. In reality, they produce nothing but they consume everything while giving you the illusion that their works are noble and their intentions are just. They are like the leader of robbers who wrote a letter to Lachoneus saying, "I write this epistle unto you, and do give unto you exceedingly great praise because of your firmness, and also the firmness of your people, in maintaining that which ye suppose to be your right and liberty; yea, ye do stand well, as if ye were supported by the hand of a god, in the defence of your liberty, and your property, and your country, or that which ye do call so...Therefore I write unto you, desiring that ye would yield up unto this my people, your cities, your lands, and your possessions, rather than that they should visit you with the sword and that destruction should come upon you." (3 Nephi 3:2,6)
By cutting off the robbers from their substance, the Nephites created places of refuge for themselves. In doing so they created micro-economies that provided their people protection from the greater threat of those robbers who could only survive by taking their substance and ultimately enslaving them to a system of secret works and thievery.
Many people feel the need to belong to communities that stand as pillars of strength and sanctuaries of light. People come together and create communities out of concern for the welfare of their families and the welfare of the neighbors. This concern has the potential to blossom into the kind of love which fulfills the adage-Love One Another. As those of like desires join the community this ember of love turns into a flame that will provide light and heat to those who engaged in the community. As things progress, the light then beckons others to join our community because it fulfills the physiological needs, the safety needs, the need to love and belong, the need for esteem, and the realization of true Joy. In fact, this desire to receive from God to bestow upon others and to bless God is the epitome of a Zion Community.
The fire of love we are discussing is not just an emotional feeling but is a love that provides opportunities of growth (physical, intellectual, spiritual, and emotional). It is a love that causes members to experience an environment of belonging and deep connection. It is a love that provides the members of the community the mechanism to make real differences in the world. It is a love whose ultimate goal is a fulfillment of Mankind’s purpose- Man is that he might have joy.
Communities represent groups of people who share common values whether they are centrally located or in different locations. Sometimes these values me be spiritual values, shared interests, commercial values or endeavors, or the decision to manifest a shared vision or desire in the material world. In the end, despite the varying paths and experiences that bring us to the common ground, the ultimate desire is to feel connection and oneness. People want to know that they are valued and understood. They want to know that they are physically safe. They want to know that they are secure in their surroundings. They want to know, experience, and give love. They want to feel valued and respected. They want to realize their full potential as children of God.
Some communities may be small while others may be larger and more diverse. There are conditions where a smaller group may thrive where larger ones dwindle. Sometimes the larger group thrives in conditions where a smaller group cannot take root. Whatever the case may be, communities exist to fulfill our need for relationship-relationship with family, with our friends, and with God.
While many feel the strong desire for community, they also feel at a loss on how to build a thriving community with strong and clear vision. Sometimes they do not understand the cultural identity and elements needed to cement real community. They face the challenges of getting the younger generation involved and to create a legacy of faith that can be perpetuated from generation to generation.
There are many kinds of communities in this world, but if you are reading this then you are seeking the foundation of establishing a community based on the pattern given by God. This pattern is very ancient, but despite its age its pattern holds the keys to a power that will provide safety and security from the onslaught of the modern warfare we face.
Washing The Feet of Your Brother’s and Sisters
To create a thriving community that will stand as a beacon of light it is important to keep in mind that the heart’s core of any city of light is the principle of service:
“And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.’ (Mosiah 2: 17)
If we aspire to a Zion, then we must never forget this one principle. The wisdom (chokmah) of Heaven is unleashed in the direct proportion to our desires and actions of service to our fellow beings. In other words, if we as individual and community vessels seek to receive from God to bless and bestow upon others then the living waters poured out from Heaven pour forth to the same degree. If we seek to receive from God to covet, the life-giving waters of heaven cease and our ground dries up.
Many have experienced or been part of various groups or communities. They have experienced the mistreatment and abuses of ego-based leadership versus servant-based leadership. They have had to endure those who promote themselves and exalt themselves above their brothers. They have had to endure mistreatment and cliques. The tendency of the natural man and woman to exalt themselves while disrespecting and diminishing others is all too common. If the community is self-serving it will only result in the creation of secret combinations, cults, and other destructive behavior.
In the beginning many communities start out with high energy and what seems to be a promising future. Reality soon sets in along with the real concerns of everyday life and everyday personalities. Without viable form and function, community dies. Without every member being a leader and a servant community becomes scattered and chaotic.
When people see that their brothers and sisters are at least as concerned about their welfare as they are about their own, then people become motivated to physically, emotionally, and spiritually invest in the building of a community composed of people of this caliber. This is not to say that predators such as wolves in sheep’s clothing do not come into a community, but by establishing “the hedge” given by God their influence and damage can be minimized and if necessary expelled. Remember, “Many peoples will come and say, "Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the temple of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths." The law will go out from Zion, the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.” (Isaiah 2:3)
For a community to grow in the bonds of brotherhood and sisterhood it is necessary for the community to clearly state the ideology and common principles that represent the purposes and goals of the community. If common values are not clearly stated, then the community can become easily manipulated and taken down a path very different than the path they originally desired. If members are asked or persuaded to disregard their ideology and common principles, then the community can be destroyed by opportunists and predators. Many communities have been destroyed by activities that are not in alignment with their ideology and common principles.
The Building Blocks of Communities of Light (to be continued)